's 2017 Horror Write-off:

Hunger : III - Main Course

Submitted by Yellowmane (email)

It was now 3:23 and I was too hungry to think straight without effort. The Bezoria Estate was even more run down than the last time I came here, and the place smelled of death and decay beyond the plaster and cheap rugs.

I had parked my car a distance off and went in on foot with my service as my only backup. I knew the risks, but also knew what was coming and didn't want to put any of my friends and co-workers in unnecessary danger.

There were several cars in the parking lot, resting in haphazard positions regardless of the faded lines of the parking spaces. The Vacancy sign creaked in the wind on its one rusty chain, and with the thinning clouds and the winding whipping up some, I couldn't help but appreciate the appropriate atmosphere.

The place consisted of the main office in front, with a two story set of 20 units surrounding a central swimming pool now filled with algae and what mosquito larva could survive in its waters. Many of the doors were boarded shut, but a few still were unimpeded. None of the lights were on, electric or candle.

Crouching low, I slinked my way between the cars and peeking around as best as I could. I never used lighting if I could help it as it would only interfere with my night vision. I sniffed the air, catching a light whiff of that scent through the earthy murk of the pool and the sweet tang of death about. Checking the cars about me, thankfully I found no bodies. If i survived this, I would still need to call backup and a cleanup-crew.

Moving on, I made my way to the front desk. The main door was unlocked and open, creaking softly on its hinges. I peeked in and found the first; a male about mid thirties sitting in the office chair behind an old rotting wood desk. I could tell he was already a goner from how he stared unblinking up at the ceiling - either that or he was in one Hell of a staring contect with the water stain above him. No other exits and only his scent was about the room.

Sniffing around led me to a few other dead, all in various states of decay. Unsurprisingly there was no scent of blood. What was odd was that we've only had five victims, all people who had loved ones and friends who reported them missing or could identify them. None of the ones I could still identify here matched any of our missing persons cases.

"It is good to meet you at last, Detective!" The voice boomed across the motel and pulled me out of my inner thoughts. "I have been following you - I am a big fan of your work!" His accent was unmistakable; the same as Mamma Maria and Annie - but he had a larger grasp on grammar than the other two did.

"Vasile, I presume!" My stomach growled angrily, seeming to match my rising mood. "You could say I've been following you as well!"

"AH! You like it? As much a work of art as ... well ... When one must dine, it is best to feed off of the sheep, yes?"

"They weren't sheep, you monster! They were people! Human lives with human dreams! And every one of them ended by your - what? - Hunger?"

"Prey, Mr. W..." I immediately cut him off.

"No! You do not have that privileged to use that name!" I shouted.

"So, stick with formalities, I see! I can do!" There was the sound of wind and the soft thud of leather shoes on a nearby rooftop. "So much power now! So much I can do! So much more than what I was in that dirty little camp!"

"So why not go like your cousin? Start a life for yourself instead of taking others?"

"Once again, Detective! Why become sheep when one can feed off of them? My friends showed me the way! Immortality! Power! GODHOOD!"

I had to laugh, inciting another rumble of my stomach. "Immortality? I take it the stiffs about are your handiwork? Your friends? They seem to have shuffled off quite awhile ago!"

"They were weak! I ... am the strong one! And life is survival of the fittest!"

"So you killed them? To show yourself better? With thinking like that, you'll quickly run out of friends!"

There was the clop of leather on the slick pavement and he was there before me, irises glowing hot iron red. Vasile smiled, parting blood red lips and showing his teeth, with his pair of canines ending in dagger points. His cheek and neck had the gashes from his last ... meal, deep enough that he would have needed a doctor, but bloodless. "I bet it stings like Hell when you bite the inside of your mouth or tongue," I smiled back, showing my own pointed canines. His smile faded slowly.

The clouds were beginning to break apart, casting the moon's pale light over the scene. My stomach growled again. Carefully, I took my fedora off and set it on a patio table, letting claws gently rake across its fabric.

"I understand why you did it. Hunger is a powerful thing, a very powerful motivation." I gave a light cough to clear the hoarseness from my throat. "But there were always alternatives, other ways to control it." I had his attention, if not for the words than for what he was looking at.

"Funny thing, really. Wolves can be tamed. I mean, they're still WOLVES - wild animals - but if you keep them fed, they can be just as tame as puppies." I took a step closer and holstered my revolver. The clouds thinned and the moon once again cast its light on us. "You let that wolf go hungry for a moment - there's no telling what it'll do." I took another step closer. "What most people don't realize is wolves," My voice was now a growl and my stomach was answering its call. "Wolves are opportunistic. They'll root through garbage, go after road kill if it's fresh enough ... Go after wounded prey." I took another step back and ran my tongue over my muzzle. "And me ... I'm one ... hungry ... wolf."